North Country Blues Lyrics

Come gather 'round, friends
and I'll tell you a tale
of when the red iron pits ran empty
but the cardboard-filled windows
and old men on the benches
tell you now that the whole town is empty.

In the north end of town
my own children are grown
but I was raised on the other.
In the wee hours of youth
my mother took sick
and I was brought up by my brother.

The iron ore poured
as the years passed the door,
the drag lines and shovels, they was a-hummin'
'til one day my brother
failed to come home
the same as my father before him.

Well a long winter's wait,
from the window I watched.
My friends, they couldn't have been kinder.
And my schooling was cut
as I quit in the spring
to marry John Thomas, a miner.

Oh the years passed again
and the givin' was good
with the lunch bucket filled every season.
What with three babies born,
the work was cut down
to half a day's shift with no reason.

They complained in the East
they are playing too high,
they say your ore ain't worth digging,
that it's much cheaper down
in the South American towns
where the miners work almost for nothing.

So the mining gates locked
and the red iron rotted
and the room smelled heavy from drinking
where the sad silent song
made the hour twice as long
as I waited for the sun to go sinking.

I lived by the window
as he talked to himself,
the silence of tongues, it was building.
Then one morning's wake
the bed, it was bare
and I's left alone with three children.

The summer is gone,
the ground's turning cold,
the stores one by one, they're a-foldin'.
My children will go
as soon as they grow.
Well, there ain't nothing here now to hold them.

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